Hurricane Nate slowed down the drop in metro Atlanta gas prices


Unlike the two prior storms, Hurricane Nate seems to have been just a speed bump on the road to lower gas prices in metro Atlanta.

Nate, which weakened to a tropical depression over the weekend, had slashed through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, soaking much of Georgia in passing, but it had minimal impact on gas production and distributions.

At most it slowed the drop in prices.

That pattern of falling prices in the autumn has not changed, said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analyst for Gas Buddy. “With hurricane season past its prime, it’s just a matter of time before gas prices return to pre-Harvey levels.”

The price of gas typically drops through most of the fall, hitting a yearly low in late winter. While gas prices now are well above their levels of a year ago, the seasonal slide has slowly begun.

The average price of regular gasoline in metro Atlanta on Tuesday was $2.52 a gallon, down nine cents from a week ago.

The current price is still 30 cents a gallon higher than it was in late August, but it has fallen from the highs of early September when gas was averaging $2.81 a gallon in metro Atlanta.

Those highs came in the wake of the damage and disruption caused by Nate’s predecessors: Harvey which pounded Texas and Irma, which smashed through the Caribbean, Florida and Georgia.

The two huge storms closed and damaged refineries, shut down oil rigs and cut dramatically into the flow of fuel being pumped from the Texas coast by Alpharetta-based Colonial Pipeline.

Not this time.

While the storms and rain from Nate were significant, the impact on the fuel network was temporary and minimal.

All being equal – that is, unless there’s another hurricane or a new war in the Middle East — experts expect the price will soon resume its seasonal slide, though it may not reach the lows of the past two years.

Last winter, gas bottomed out at $2.10 a gallon. The year before it hit a late-winter low of $1.63 a gallon.

“There is some ‘noise’ in the background that may slow the drop,” DeHaan said.

For instance, some of the world’s big oil producers are talking about extending cuts to production that helped prop up global prices.

But those kinds of deals are virtually unenforceable. Every producer wants to let someone else cut back on production and forgo profits to push prices up. So there is a “limited chance” that prices will dip slightly below $2 a gallon at some stations, DeHaan said.

Current metro Atlanta prices range from $2.24 a gallon at several Lawrenceville stations up to $2.99 at some retailers in the city of Atlanta, according to Gas Buddy’s AtlantaGasPrices.

Georgia pump prices are 23 cents more per gallon than at this time last year, according to AAA.

The highest prices paid came in 2008, after Hurricane Ike, when a gallon of gasoline averaged $4.16 a gallon, said AAA.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Business stories of the week: Amazon, 2018 priorities, Phipps Plaza
Business stories of the week: Amazon, 2018 priorities, Phipps Plaza

The week had no shortage of business headlines among Atlanta area companies – or perhaps companies that want to become Atlanta area companies. From the Amazon second headquarters search to major development projects, here are some of the big business headlines you might have missed from the past week. Georgia and Atlanta area economic development...
More job cuts coming to Atlanta as part of Coca-Cola restructuring
More job cuts coming to Atlanta as part of Coca-Cola restructuring

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola plans to cut an additional 179 jobs in its hometown as part of a broader restructuring the beverage giant announced earlier this year. In filings with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Workforce Division, Coke identified layoffs at three corporate offices in the city effective by the end of December...
Atlanta’s Phipps Plaza makeover plan shifts into overdrive
Atlanta’s Phipps Plaza makeover plan shifts into overdrive

The reinvention of Phipps Plaza into a mixed-use entertainment and shopping complex has been in the works for more than a decade. But the announcement Tuesday of a $200 million-plus expansion, including a flagship Nobu hotel and restaurant, will take that the makeover to a new level, officials with mall owner Simon hope. In Nobu, Phipps will add...
4 of the best ways to turn your home into a cash cow
4 of the best ways to turn your home into a cash cow

Your house is a large expense with many associated costs like a mortgage payment, insurance, maintenance and more. It provides a roof over your head, of course, but since it usually costs you money each month, why not put it to work for you and earn some cash in the process? The following are four ways your house can make you money: If you're planning...
6 things to know about working for Uber
6 things to know about working for Uber

Uber has been making headlines in recent months for everything from a new CEO to industry regulation. But if you want to work as a driver for the service that revolutionized the taxi-transport industry, there is more important information about Uber you'll want to check out. Here are six things you need to know about Uber before working for them...
More Stories